inspiration

Work-Life Balance Conundrum

This post is going to be a little bit more … real than
normal. While I really do try to keep things fun & light on here, this is
something that has been on my mind recently. (I also think that it’s something
a lot of young women struggle with, or at the very least, think about often.)
It could also very well be that I work at a company where“work-life balance” is often discussed. The questions “How do you balance
everything?” or “How do you maintain a work-life balance?” come up during
almost every single Office Hours. And honestly, those are the questions I want
to hear answered most.
So I’m 23. I’m absolutely years away from starting a family,
but I can’t stop thinking about it. Will my career ambitions allow me to have
children? Would I be a stay-at-home mom (as my mom was) or would I have my
husband stay home or would we both work and have a nanny? How old will I be
when having children makes financial, personal, and career sense? Do I even
want to have children?
I never expected to be able to answer those questions right
away. And I don’t expect that I will ever completely know concretely. No matter
what happens, I realize there will have to be some sort of sacrifice. It’s just
which aspect of my life will outweigh the other, therefore becoming my priority
and diminishing the feeling of “sacrifice.”
I think I always had it in the back of my mind growing up
that I wanted to be a mom. My mom was the best mom. My sister and I always had
“afterschool snacks” and an art supply collection that blew the rest of the
families in our neighborhood out of the water. Stacy and I had free reign to
explore, create, and learn right there beside our mom. We both definitely have
an intense, super close bond with our mom that is more akin to friendship than
anything else.
Once I got to college, I realized that having children and
being a mom is more than just a commitment. And it’s super personal for
everyone involved. (By that I mean that there are no right or wrong answers,
you must do what works for you. Just because it works for one doesn’t mean it
will work for another.) I started to get it in my head that I would rather not
have children. I was focused on school and very invested in starting my company
and growing as a writer. I couldn’t see children ever fitting into the
lifestyle I dreamed of having as “an adult.”
Of course, then I graduated and was suddenly thrown into
this thing called the Real World. Quickly, my feelings about children were
being torn in every which way. I have this sneaking suspicion that I’m never going
to leave NYC, ever. So I’d see these moms pushing high-tech, compact strollers
around and think, “Oh, I’m going to turn into one of these Manhattan Moms.”
Simultaneously, I was also thinking about how I was so excited to see my career
unfolding and wasn’t sure how a family would fit into the picture.
Then I was home over Thanksgiving break and had to very
gut-wrenching experiences. The first was seeing my beautiful next-door
neighbors. I’ve babysat the three of them since they were born. Jacob is now (omg!)
in the double digits. Abby has a boatload of grownup teeth shifting their way
into her smile. And Izzy doesn’t have an ounce of baby left in her; she’s a
long and strong four year old with a personality that fills the room. All I
could think was, “When did this happen?” For over ten years, I’ve always had a baby in my life with their family.
Literally since I was in middle school, there’s always been a baby (and even a
puppy) to care for. And now they’re all grown up! That was the first time I
missed having some sort of baby/toddler around. Although, it should go without
saying… it’s been incredible to see them grow up and turn into amazing
individuals. (I’m not too sure how I feel about Jacob creeping up to eye level
though!!)
A few days later our family friend brought her newborn over.
Holding that teeny tiny nugget of a human being was the best feeling. I don’t
think I’ve held a baby that small since Abby was born (because Izzy was born
when I was at college). It was the best feeling in the world.
And it completely opened both my eyes and my heart to the
possibility (and frankly the desire) of having children. Not now, but
eventually. I know there are millions of factors (particularly ‘timing’) that
go into the decision making of starting of family, I think I’m way more open
and excited about it than I ever was before.
Could things change in a couple of years? Absolutely.
But for now, I’m content with the fact that I’m good right
now and that I’m not sure what the future holds, but I’m excited either way.
What do you think?

xoxo

22 Comments

Jane

I'm in the exact same boat. I'm married, but still in my early/mid 20's and part of me doesn't think I will ever be ready for kids. And, another part of me wants them so, so bad. Not right now but in the future. And, then the other side of me starts in again and looking at my 5 and 10 year plans I don't see kids fitting in. It's definitely not something to jump into.

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Richard

Society has attempted to brand most women's brains to think they have to reproduce, or they are somehow incomplete. This branding is far more common in the South. What is most important is to find someone that you love. Desires for homes, children, cars, etc. should not supercede finding the perfect mate. My advice would be to focus on the life you have now, and if that perfect man comes along, have a discussion with them about kids before you marry. Just my two cents worth.

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Caroline

I think many people, not just women, are imcomplete when they don't have a family. That's not branding or brainwashing, that's nature.

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Chelsea Kabelsy

To Richard, while I absolutely agree with you that a woman does not need children to feel complete, she also doesn't need to be in a relationship to feel complete. What is most important is that individuals feel whole and fulfilled within themselves – finding a partner should be a bonus in life, rather than the main goal. I'm totally not saying that people need other people – they do, friends and family are important – but rather that single women and men are allowed to (and should) feel complete without a partner. Your partner, if you are so lucky to have one, should be someone who complements you, rather than completes you. None of us know what is going to happen – Carly, you may even move from New York one day! – and so it's important that we complete ourselves, rather than wait on that 'perfect partner' (who may never come) to complete us.

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carletonenglish.com

All I can say is you're not alone! At 22, I thought I be ready to "settle-down" and be married with kids on the by 25. My now, 29 year old self laughs at that naivety! I also thought that I would feel like a failure if I didn't have children. Now I feel comfortable with my life either taking a path with children or not. Though I'm sure those feelings may change again a some point!

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Jessica Randall

I'm 22 and I don't feel the desire to have kids at all and it's a given I can only speak for what I want right now. I get so much pressure from people when I tell them I don't want kids but having kids when a couple doesn't have the resources to provide for them isn't smart. I can't imagine having kids yet because I'm not at a point where I can provide for them.

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Molly

Cute pictures! I don't think you have to be around all the time to have a good relationship with your kids. Both my parents worked long hours when I was little and a babysitter did stuff like picking me up at school, but weekends and holidays were always full of family time and I never felt at a disadvantage to kids with stay-at-home parents. I'm headed to med school myself, so needless to say my job is a priority. But I don't think it needs to mean that I can't have a kid someday if I want to.

Plus, don't discount the fact that in the modern world, especially as a blogger/social media expert, lots of jobs have flexible hours or can be done from home.

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kimberrleigh

I found out a month or so ago my good friend is having a baby. I kind of went through shock for a few weeks – we're only 23 years old!? How can she be having kids??
But then I realized that (as society says) you should be having children at 23. Or at least start thinking about it.

I'm with you – I've been focused on my career for the past 5 years. I don't know how to flip that switch into creating a family. I don't know if I want to. But just that idea that I should probably start considering it is always in the back of my mind.

<3
carelessly graceful

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Miranda Haley

I'm glad to see that there is someone out there who feels the same way I do. I am also 23. I am single, and am working towards my career. But sometimes I wonder did I miss the boat? Should I be married? Did I become so focused on my career that this is all I'll ever have? But then I think about it, and I know this is cynical but most marriages fail. I want to know that i am in the right place before I get married. Think about Lauren Conrad she gave up on a Paris for a man and look how well that turned out! Marriage takes a lot of work and having kids takes even more work! I believe is important to figure out life for yourself before you plan a life with someone else! Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE kids. My love for working with kids is why I am becoming a teacher, but I want to have kids when I am ready to be a parent!

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The Yuppie Files

At some point I think it will become clearer. I have always wanted to be a mom, no question. But you start a career & then think how the heck do you do everything? Once I had a few years of work in the real world down, my life settled a bit, & the timing issue became less scary. My friends have kids now & some were planned, some were not. All are struggling w/the balance but are happy.

There are no clear answers but I think you become more comfortable w/understanding the struggle then you do in your early 20's.

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Nicole

I just turned 20 last month, and I have never ever liked kids, always said I'll just have animals as my "kids." Some of my friends are 23 and already have kids, and I'm thinking they're crazy. But the more I tell that to my friends who are my age and older than me, and my family members, the more I hear that's my point of view now but when I get older that view will change. Heck, I'm already thinking, "I will never become that kind of parent!" or "I do not want my kid to be like that!"

But. Having kids are way out there in the far future for me. I'm just taking baby steps, and in no need to rush to become a mommy. I still have to go to grad school, and I'm not even ready for that, haha!

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lexiejh

This was a great post! I'm 18 and by no means do I want to have children right now (obviously – I don't want to end up on MTV), but I do have a lot of ambitions and wonder sometimes if kids would fit into the equation. Like you stated when you're off trying to expand your career and make something for yourself when would there be time to take care and start a family? It's scary to think about because I want to be a mom, but I guess timing and life itself will tell when the timing is best.

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Megan

I was your age when I had my first child, an awesome, unexpected, life changing event. I had always wanted to be a mom. BUT, I had always wanted to be ME. An independent, career driven, kick ass woman. Six years and some change later…I am both. I would love to say planning makes it easier, but having my second (very, very planned) child was just as hard on my work-life balance as the first one. I have struggled so much with wanting to be myself in my career and a mom too, and giving my kids a mom they deserve (one who is there for them and present in their lives). I'm learning it's a see-saw. Sometimes you lean one direction, sometimes the other…but the kids love you anyway. Even when you screw up. P.S. My best friend is a young mom/career kicker of major ass and lives in NYC. It's totally possible 🙂

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AlexCarolyn

I love this post. Honestly, Carly, if you are ever worried about not keeping things fun and light–don't. These are the kinds of things that we are ALL struggling to figure out, and it helps to know that someone else is going through the same thing.

My personal feeling is that sometimes there is no "decision making" about it–things happen, careers and circumstances change before we can catch our breath! Which doesn't mean we should stop thinking about it–just that we can take the pressure off on having to "decide" one way or the other.

Thanks for the honest, it is definitely appreciated!

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Julia D.

I guess it never really entered my mind that I couldn't have it all, nor am I willing to entertain that idea now. I've always wanted to be a mom, with a LOT of children no less, who also works, but is advanced enough in her career that it can be made flexible. Marriage is a whole other thing for me, but children, I could never imagine a longterm future without them.

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Juliette

Aw, what sweet comments about eventually wanting to have a baby. I am now pregnant with my second (I'm 33). I have a 5 year old daughter already and I have to say, having children really is as wonderful as I had hoped. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. And more importantly, don't be turned off by children because of a few bad seeds. Wild, unruly kids are almost always the fault of scatterbrain parents. You've got a great head on your shoulders and would make a wonderful mother one day. For now, enjoy each day. Life certainly does not end when you have babies – in fact, it only gets better!

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Autumn

I am 24 and married to a man who is really a perfect compliment to my personality. I want to be a Mom someday and also have a career. However, I feel there are a lot more options for women now than there used to be.

My husband is really supportive of my goals as I am of his. When we make decisions we put our future family first and even though the juggling act can be frustrating, I find there is a lot of excitement and joy in it too!

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Caroline

You can honestly figure out the best of both worlds. I know so many women who are doctors and own their own businesses who started a loving family at the time it was right for them. You shouldn't be pressured into babies and marriage THIS SECOND, but think ahead for the future. In brash honesty, when you're 60 years old with no grandkids and only your career, you'll regret it.

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